Following the release of their debut album ‘Midnight Voyage’ on Atomnation, Tunnelvisions reappears on the Dutch imprint with a remix package, featuring interpretations by Aera and Luca Musto, next to two alternative versions of ‘Guava’.

Tunnelvisions, the collaboration project between Raynor de Groot and Emiel van den Dungen, approaches music with an open mind and fuses different musical elements together in their endeavour to bring back some warmth on the dance floor. Their very well received debut album ‘Midnight Voyage’, which was released on Atomnation last year, showcases their shared vision of contemporary club music in the most organic way possible.

In celebration of the album, Atomnation is set to release a remix package of ‘Midnight Voyage’, featuring remixes from Aera and Luca Musto, next to two alternative versions of ‘Guava’ coming from the hands of Tunnelvisions. With a multitude of shows lined up for this summer, among which a performance at DGTL Festival, the duo sets out to share their collaborative philosophy towards club culture.

Welcome Raynor and Emiel, first off the usual icebreaker. How have you been and what did your day look like today?

We’re good! The last couple of weeks have been kinda hectic, with gigs almost every weekend and new tracks we’re working on in the studio. Things seem to be slowing down now a bit, which is nice. Today has been a very slow day for us. Raynor was sick and he woke up at 12, didn’t do much. Emiel was celebrating Carnaval in Brabant for the last couple of days, he’s kinda hungover now, haha.

Let’s start things off with the project. Can you tell us a little about your background and when you first became interested in electronic music?

We both have been making music for a long time before we started Tunnelvisions. Emiel is brought up in a musical family. His dad is a music producer and composer by trade. When Emiel turned 13, his dad gave him his old Mac as a birthday present which had Logic pro 9 on it – packed with samples and stuff his dad would use for his projects. So at an early age, Emiel already produced music, as well as using classic instruments like a piano and guitar to do so. Around his 16th he was going to events and was getting inspired by electronic music, deciding to also try out DJing himself. Emiel moved to Berlin when he was 21, he saved some money to live there for a year and started to focus on music full time there without any distractions. The club life there inspired him a lot.

Raynor’s mom used to be a singer until she messed up her vocal chords, each morning she sang and she thought Raynor (and his brothers) how to sing. Beside singing, Raynor started picking up different instruments to try out, learning to play the guitar and piano. Later on he was getting into the hip-hop genre and started to produce beats for friends that needed beats to spit on, this was at the age of 14. Raynor just kept making music from then. His connections grew when going to art school, meeting creative people who next to making visual art also worked on music. Some of them played in bands, others were performing as a DJs. A friend learned Ray how to DJ there and this got him caught up in the more credible part of the electronic music scene – knowing instantly this was the thing to learn to be good at.

At the start of Tunnelvisions, you guys made a trip to Africa and South America to gather inspiration for the project. Tell us a little about that journey and the inspiration that came with it.

Haha, we don’t know why but that story has been around for quite a while now. We even had people coming to us after our release show asking us about this journey. We never went on an adventure like this …physically though. The real story is that when we started out Tunnelvisions we really wanted to go on a trip together, but we didn’t have the money to actually do it. So instead of saving money and waiting for the time to travel, we started visiting these places through the internet. We kinda approached it like a project in art school. We did research about places from all over the world. Looking up photo’s, reading stories but also checking out the different genres of music you can hear all over the globe. Because of the internet, the whole world is connected now. You can learn about different cultures this way so easily. As a way of escaping from our environment, we worked on music inspired by the things we saw in those different cultures. So we kinda mixed up African, South American, and the Caribbean culture with our backgrounds in electronic music. It blended into a sort of organic club sound that we both never heard before. The Tunnelvisions sound was born here.

Your debut album ‘Midnight Voyage’, was released on Atomnation last year. What was the process of creating the album and the idea behind it?

The idea behind it is already explored a bit in the question before. But an idea is only as good as it’s execution. So, once we had a rough idea of what the philosophy behind the album should be, we were at the point to decide what aesthetics would match the idea best – both on the visual and audio side. One big part of the Tunnelvisions sound is that it sounds organic. When you listen to some of our tracks, you don’t know if a band is playing it or not. We felt this was one of the most exciting things for us, it was the foundation of the entire album. We started using guitars, pianos, vocals and live recorded percussion. Also live synths, just to get our ideas across… Besides that, one thing that was really important for the album (and something that will remain important for the future of the Tunnelvisions sound) is that our drum rhythms have a “four to the floor” base, but it’s expanded with looser rhythms that are often heard in non-western music. We started experimenting with combining reggaeton, baile funk, reggae and samba drums on top of our house beats. We developed our own sound this way – a sound that feels familiar but also a sound that feels non-western and fresh.

Can we look at the album as a travelogue of that ‘trip’ you made? The track titles would suggest so.

For sure. We took inspiration from all over the world, the track titles represent that as well.

Is there a certain division of roles, when you work in the studio together?

We aim to divide our time in 50% working on music on our own, and 50% working together. Most of the time we both come up with ideas in our own studio. Once we both have a good idea for a track, we exchange the tracks we’re working on. This way a track doesn’t end up being a one-sided conversation. We give each other complete freedom to do whatever we want. So to say, if Emiel doesn’t like a bassline in a Raynor snippet, he’s free to remove it and change it. But the rule always is: if you change something it has to be better. This way of thinking has sorta developed a healthy competition between us while writing new music. We always try to out-do each other with new ideas, something that’s really beneficial to our sound.

Once we have good idea of what a track should be, we come together to sit down and arrange the tracks. Raynor’s role is more like “the technical sound engineer”, he’s mixing most of the tracks. Emiel is really into space and the hypnotic parts of a track. So once a track is still missing those spacey fx and weirdness, Emiel starts tweaking and experimenting until that’s done. Most of the time it ends up as a nice process and collaboration.

Aside from the album, you’re now releasing a remix package of the album. Prominently featuring Guava with an extended, a night- and a remix. What made this track stand out in particular?

Guava was one of the tracks we finished really quick. We actually recorded the vocals for a different track, but it didn’t work out. Each time we kept listening to the dry vocals we knew that it had something special. It had this sort of hippie vibe and it really kept drawing us in. We made a couple of different versions of the track, but nothing we made would enhance the vocals.

So this one day, we were just relaxing at Raynor’s studio and listening to some Reggae music. Suddenly we got the right idea for the track. Raynor started playing his guitar to have this sorta reggae groove. We knew we had to keep it simple, so we only made one progression that would reveal itself later on in the track. We feel this is the secret of the track and why it stood out. At it’s core, it’s just some awesome vocals, a simple concept, and some nice vibes.

The night mix brings up an interesting point. Do you guys feel a night should be filled with ‘club ready’ track so to speak, or do you find it acceptable to surprise the crowd with a track like the original version of Guava, which isn’t in essence built for clubs?

The more we can surprise a crowd the better. We know that tracks which are slower and not meant for the club can totally work at night. We try to stay very true to this philosophy. For example, when we closed off a big festival last summer we decided to take the tempo from the 124 bpm of the artist before us to 110. Because something is slower, or less intense, doesn’t mean it can’t work. Crowds have to adjust to this first, of course. Often, when we do this, you see people think: “Do I like this? Can I dance to this?”. In the end, the contrast you get by going down in tempo, and then going up again, and combining tracks like Guava with more club-ready tracks, is really refreshing and makes the peaks even higher. Guava is a track we’re so proud of, that we want to be able to play it when our sets are in a more chill point, but also when we’re approaching a peak. These peaks are more heard when we play later on in a night. That’s why we wanted to make a different version of Guava, a Night Mix for those moments.

Did you have a say in who you wanted to remix the album? If so, could you elaborate your choices?

Atomnation (shout out to them for everything), gave us the chance to approach anyone we wanted. We thought it was important to approach the artists who in our ears would take the tracks into a direction they needed. Aera is an artist which had a big influence on us and our music. His way of combining melodies with a more hypnotic sound is something that we haven’t heard a lot before. Seeing him being on board and making a true acid version of Guava was awesome. Luca Musto is someone who’s leading in the Berlin downtempo scene, and his production style is very fresh and unique. Kahana was one of those tracks that could use an awesome spin and Luca made a totally vibey remix for it. We think both remixes are nice and we are really glad to have those guys work on our material.

Next to all the releases, you guys got a big show coming up in April, playing DGTL festival next to Satori and Damian Lazarus. How are the nerves and anything special planned for us there?

Haha, the nerves are good man! We’re super excited for that one. For each gig we’ve done over the last year we have been working on refining our DJ sets, making it more dynamic, and making sure that it would fit in different time slots and places. For DGTL we really want to take people on a trip around the world – setting the tone for the stage and get people vibing. Damian and Satori are two artists we really admire, so it’s an honor to play before them and it’s an honor to be playing at DGTL. In short, we’re ready!

As you started the project because you wanted to bring back some warmth on the dance floor. How would you describe a typical Tunnelvisions set?

A typical Tunnelvisions set sits somewhere between 3 and 5 hours. We always start off slow, around 100BPM (the BPM depends on how late we start, of course). From that we starting building up, changing moods from light to dark, and back to light again. Slowly pitching up that BPM. Playing different genres, different sounds, different cultures. At the end of the adventure, you’ll have the feeling that you’ve just traveled the world with us.

What are you guys working on at the moment and what can we expect in the near future?

We have something really big coming up this year. After the album was done, we started working on new material right away. This has resulted in a second project that will see the light of day throughout 2018. It’s also a departure from the chill laidback sound we had on our first album. We’re raising the tempo a bit, and working with an even broader spectrum of sounds and cultures. It isn’t Midnight Voyage 2, but something entirely new. But we keep true to our own sound. It really feels good to work on a new project again and we hope to surprise the people even more this year.

Midnight Voyage Remixed will be released February 16th, via Atomnation. Pre-order HERE.